Student-produced documentary shows Miami’s exposure to climate change

Photo: Joshua Prezant/University of Miami 

Marin Yang, a native of Shanghai, China, has long embraced filmmaking as a hobby.

In high school, Yang began to explore his newfound interest creating amateur film projects related to the environment and climate change.

“When I started to formally study climate science at the University of Miami, I knew that I needed to tell a story that’s relevant for Miami,” he shared.

On Nov. 29 at the Cosford Cinema on the Coral Gables Campus, Yang will present the premiere of his debut documentary film entitled, “Tidal Variance,” a 30-minute documentary that investigates the effects of climate change across the world.

"You have to learn to not only be a scientist, but also a communicator, to reach people and get them to understand what’s at stake,” said Yang, a senior majoring in Geography and Sustainable Development and Ecosystem Science and Policy.

The short film features climate specialists from several countries, as well as University faculty members who specialize in climate research, offering a multi-faceted look at global climate change. Yang directed and produced the film as part of professor Sanjeev Chatterjee's "Impact Documentary" course offered in the School of Communication.

Yang worked on this collaborative project with University students Yi (Eve) Lu, a master's student in journalism, who served as the film’s producer by conducting local interviews, and Justin S. Kinchen, a jazz trumpet and classical violin performance major at the Frost School of Music, who created the film’s musical score.  

“The most significant challenge was the fact that we did not have any formal background in filmmaking,” said Yang. “I was glad that I was able to rise to the challenge and fill in some of the gaps with my experience in amateur filmmaking. In the end, we pulled it off despite the serious time constraints and challenges.”

Yang is most proud of the stunning images they used of Miami and other areas around the globe. “I loved the post-production process, which really allowed me to experiment with visual storytelling possibilities. Of course, I am also glad that this project has challenged me and pushed me beyond my limits,” he added.

After his graduation in December, Yang will look to find a way to work at the intersections of geography, the environment, and visual communication. 

“I hope the screening will be a one-of-a-kind experience, and I hope to be able to awe the audience with the visuals and music,” said Yang. “Most importantly, I hope this documentary will give the audience an intersectional understanding of climate change, and finally underscore the importance of civic engagement.” 

Register for the screening of “Tidal Variance” at the Cosford Cinema on Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. To view the film trailer, click here.